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Posted on in Juvenile Crimes

CT defense lawyerWhen a juvenile commits a crime in Connecticut, there are two possible ways the case can be classified. Depending on several factors, including the nature of the offense, a juvenile can either be classified as a juvenile defendant, or as a youthful offender. While these two designations might seem interchangeable, they are not, and it is critical to understand the difference.

Juvenile Defendants

Juvenile defendants are, as one might expect, juveniles - people under the age of 18 who have committed an offense that the prosecutor determines should be prosecuted in juvenile court. They are referred to as juvenile delinquents, rather than defendants; Connecticut’s juvenile courts are much more focused on rehabilitation, especially for first offenders, as opposed to the adult court system that is focused more on punishment. The nature of the offense usually determines whether someone under 18 will be charged as a juvenile or as an adult.

Juvenile defendants are also more likely to be granted a non-judicial outcome in their case, meaning probation or pretrial diversion as opposed to a conviction and sentence. This may seem not harsh enough, for a young person who has allegedly committed a crime, but nonjudicial outcomes are not generally available for those who commit serious offenses. With nonviolent misdemeanors and violations, the state of Connecticut has decided to help young offenders learn rather than punish immediately.

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Posted on in Juvenile Crimes

CT defense lawyerToo many people see petty crime or mischief offenses as part of growing up, especially for young boys and men. However, it is still important not to overlook the potential consequences of committing a crime, and in some cases, the crime may be serious enough to be removed to adult court, with all the attendant consequences. Having an experienced juvenile justice attorney on your side can help smooth out the process while still preserving your child’s rights.

Juvenile Court: More Rehabilitative Than Punitive

In juvenile court, there are two broad categories of offenses that a young person may be charged with: delinquent acts, or serious juvenile offenses. Delinquent acts are defined as the violation of a federal or state law (with exceptions) by a juvenile. Essentially, if the act in question is not defined as a serious juvenile offense, it will generally qualify as a delinquent act. Serious juvenile offenses, by comparison, are specifically laid out in the relevant statute, and if the prosecutor thinks it necessary, allow your child’s case to be removed to adult court.

In most cases where a juvenile is arrested, Connecticut’s justice system has the stated aim of trying to rehabilitate them, rather than solely punish them for their choices. Their young age and (in most cases) lack of life experience are seen as mitigating factors, to some degree, and especially in cases of non-violent crime, many juvenile offenders are offered alternative options to a jail sentence, such as diversion programs or community service.

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CT criminal lawyerOne of a parent’s worst nightmares has to be their child being expelled from school or even just threatened with expulsion. In this day and age, schools are getting tough with discipline, and codes of conduct are far less forgiving than they used to be. However, your child does have certain rights, including the right to contest the expulsion. Having an experienced attorney present at the hearing can help you reach a negotiated outcome that affects your child’s future as little as possible.

Many Grounds for Expulsion

Depending on your school’s code of conduct, there are many different actions that can lead to a sentence of expulsion. Examples include sexual assault or misconduct, cheating or plagiarism, bullying, and possession of alcohol or drugs, though there are many others, depending on the school. Many students do not realize that the code of conduct for their school has the strength of a binding contract - in other words, both sides of the equation must uphold the rules in the code, and if this does not happen, the contract can be severed.

Even though offenses serious enough to warrant an expulsion are very severe, your child does still have rights. One of those is the right to have an attorney lay out the arguments to keep them in school, and to delay an expulsion hearing for up to 10 days in order to find representation. They also do have the right to an alternative education plan in the event of an expulsion, even if that expulsion is permanent. Nonetheless, remaining in school is obviously the preferable option, and being able to make your case persuasively is critical in achieving that goal.

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CT defense lawyerMost of the time, when a young person under a certain age is arrested and charged with a crime, they are charged with that crime as a juvenile, which is different than if they were charged as an adult. However, it is easy to get confused between the juvenile and adult systems in Connecticut, even though it is important to be aware of the differences and the varying potential consequences of charges in each. If you or your child has been charged as an adult when they are legally still a juvenile, it means that the case is a very serious one, and you need all the help you can get on your side.

Rehabilitation vs Punishment

In the United States, the juvenile court system is generally seen as rehabilitative, while the adult court system is seen as more punitive, and there is, unfortunately, truth to this. Juvenile offenders, whether they have been charged with a crime or a status offense (a non-criminal offense, such as being truant or a runaway), are often referred to rehabilitation programs or educational diversions, as opposed to being given jail time or other punitive consequences. Only truly serious juvenile offenses warrant detention and trial, and even at that point, a trial in juvenile court is much more geared toward rehabilitating the accused.

In juvenile court, it is also more likely that you will be able to minimize the potential consequences of the offense, even if you plead guilty or otherwise admit wrongdoing. Connecticut will often handle juvenile cases ‘non-judicially,’ meaning that juvenile offenders will be shunted into pretrial diversion programs or given another type of consequence rather than jail time. Counseling or community service are common options.

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CT defense lawyerMany parents tend to look past teenage misbehavior as mere pranks, or “boys-will-be-boys” type of hijinks. In reality, young adults can be charged with serious crimes if their behavior warrants it, and the penalties can be severe. If your child has been charged with a crime, it is important that you seek out a Stamford juvenile justice lawyer who is experienced with handling these types of matters.

Juvenile vs. Adult Court

The idea of your child being charged with a crime can be quite distressing to a parent, and it should be taken seriously. However, if your child is charged as a juvenile, it is important to keep in mind that the system is very different than it would be for an adult. Juveniles are not convicted of crimes unless charged as adults; rather, they are ‘adjudicated delinquent.’ Generally, the juvenile system is seen as much more rehabilitative than the punishing adult court system; most offenses are seen as learning opportunities rather than strikes that should haunt a young adult for life.

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